Madden 98

snap18_1The Madden name has a long history in gaming. First appearing on the Sega Genesis, its move into the modern 32-bit world has been less-than-successful. It missed an entire year (1996), and Madden 97 was merely serviceable. Despite this, there was hope that Madden 98 would fix the series. Actually, that’s an understatement. Nothing can prepare you for what has happened to Madden 98. It has a lot in common with Accolade’s Legends 98, bettering it in aesthetics and its ability to produce credible simulated statistics but sharing most of that game’s flaws.

The most inexcusable flaw is Madden 98’s non-existent computer opponent. The game’s new technology, dubbed Liquid AIâ„¢, is supposedly adapted from authentic NFL playbooks. In action, it doesn’t work. Period. What are you supposed to think of a game where playing games on the hardest “All-Madden” skill level generates “credible” scores like a 172-101 victory (human Raiders vs. CPU Broncos)? Where Jeff George throws for 1600 yards with 22 touchdown passes (19 to James Jett alone) in one game by running the same play the entire game (“Hail Mary”)?

What about a game where running backs typically average negative yards/carry because they can rarely make it out of the backfield? Finally, how about a 83-48 victory (human Saints vs. CPU “All-Madden” team, 10 minute quarters) where a new indefensible play (“Play Action”) is substituted for the previous indefensible play (“Hail Mary”) and Heath Shuler (stop giggling) throws for 900 yards and 11 touchdowns?

All of these problems destroy the things Madden 98 gets right. These range from the detailed stadiums, a fast framerate in Windows 95, excellent sprite-based player animations, a wonderful dynamic camera that keeps all players on-screen at all times (something all other football games should emulate) and near-perfect controls. In all, however, Madden 98 is a sports game that looks good but features gameplay that can be ripped to shreds after one or two games.

System Requirements: Pentium 133 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win98

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